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Politics and the Eloquence Fallacy

Neo-Neocon penned a refutation on Friday (h/t: Ace) of the notion, oft fulsomely asserted in the 2008 campaign, that eloquence is a substitute for competence:

Wordsmiths fancy they could govern quite well, if only they cared to. Neither the skills nor the knowledge base of oration or of writing—especially fiction, although it’s also true of writing in general—are readily transferable to forming and implementing policy, although they’re not necessarily mutually exclusive.

Did Anderson ever watch a tape of Truman giving a speech? He makes McCain look like Churchill. Truman was not good at oration—but he is now thought of as having been a good president although his popularity, like Bush’s, was very low when he left office. Perhaps the latter fact is an indication that good speechmaking is helpful for selling one’s policies and bad speechmaking handicaps a president who is involved in a complex and difficult war, such as the Korean or the Iraq wars.

Reality is reality; words are words. No logical path connects the two. Being able to discuss with reverent rapture the virtues of the ’68 Mustang Shelby does not begin to equip you to repair one. Knowing how to explain what McClellan his opportunity for a glorious victory at Antietam does not enable you to command an army. And being able to excite the voters does not equate to being able to govern them.

I do not broach a new idea (there are very few such things). The ancient Greeks hashed this business out centuries before Christ. The Sophists were well aware of the gulf between words and truth. Some of them, like Gorgias, stated so bluntly, and drew the ire of Socrates for their trouble. And some goodly fellow just published a tome of Gorgias’ extent works, so that people can read about the vast difference between what can be spoken and what is true.

See what I did there?

Are Blog Books a Thing?

A blogger and essayist named Melissa Camara Wilkins, who writes about her life, family, amusing her children, lack of super-caffeinated tea, etc., has a veritable slew  of self-published books on Amazon. Several of them are short essays, one of them is an essay collection. One of them is a collection of posts from her blog.


This is the economic quandary I’ve been pondering. Are people actually willing to pay for material that’s already available online for free? Presumably, an edited selection making up the best of a blog would be worth a Kindle price, if someone’s interested in the subject. But readers of the blog won’t, because they’ll have already read that material.

I don’t know what Wilkins’ sales are like, so I can’t really comment any further. But it’s been at the back of my mind for rather a long time now.

Upcoming Book, Or Where My Essays Went

Yesterday I mentioned that my Essays page was being discontinued as part of the redesign, and that I would probably publish a book of Essays instead, on my Riposte Publishing imprint. Today, after performing the rote and necessary actions which earn the daily bread, I finally managed to put some work into it.

Truth be told, this is the second time I’ve thought of publishing a self-anthology. My very first CreateSpace project was intended as a gleaning of my old blogs. I was going to call it From the Bowels of the Blogsophere I Stab at Thee, a mix of archaicism and ironic graniloquence that I imagined would bring throngs of people to appreciate my wit. I gave up the idea after wondering if some of the material would not reflect well on my employment.

Right now I’ve got a working title of Cleaning Out the Notebook, but I’m not in love with it (among other things, it’s way too truthful). It’s going to have a few reviews and some fiskings, just for good measure, but I haven’t found that one quote that could double as a title yet. Details will follow.

And hey, if you happen to enjoy reading old Sophists, I already have a book out…

Novel Writing Today

I’ve got something I’m working on, so I’m going to withdraw a bit today. I need to transfer a First Chapter from my Moleskine to Microsoft Word. Details will follow when there are any.

My Publishing House Has a Name, and a Logo…

…and I think I’m about to start the paperwork on making it an LLC. One needs liability protection.

The Name: Riposte Publishing

The Logo:

It’s a start, anyway.

Eventually, it’s going to need its own web site, which I’ll probably create on WordPress.